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Friday, April 1, 2011

Arbor advocate makes like a tree and leaves

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  • LeAnn Shaw
Har har har. Couldn't resist.

When we saw the news this morning, we first thought it was an April Fools' Day joke. But no, alas, it's true: Marcia Bansley, the founding executive director of Trees Atlanta, was retiring from the nonprofit she helped launch more than 25 years ago.

For decades, Bansley has led the organization — and its army of volunteers — in a mission to preserve and build the city's green canopy with tree plantings and arboreal awareness. Its LEED-certified, badass Reynoldstown headquarters isn't too shabby either.) From the press release (.doc) announcing her exit:

Ahead in her career when she departs in May are the formal study of architecture and the development of her growing but largely invisible practice as an international non-profit consultant and “Appleseed” advocate to the world. She will also continue to be involved with Trees Atlanta as an advocate and fundraiser as Ms. Connie Veates steps in as Interim Director. Ms. Bansley “feels very confident about the involved board, the committed long-serving staff, and passionate volunteers at Trees Atlanta as they continue protecting and improving Atlanta’s urban forest for the next 26 years and beyond.”

She will leave behind in America's historically fastest growing urban area a hardwood tapestry of her own making: hundreds of groves of new and, now, not so new trees. Oaks and elms mostly, the 81,000 trees she counts as her legacy will continue to bring soft green touches to busy boulevards, the marble hard faces of corporate towers, and asphalt parking lots by the score.

Not bad for a city that was losing up to 50 acres of trees a day to development in the 1980s and 1990’s, so said NASA in its satellite scans of the American landscape in those go-go days.

The fact that Bansley will remain closely involved surely brings some relief to Trees Atlanta supporters. The former lawyer is close with many of the city's movers and shakers — many of whom help keep the nonprofit in the black and out planting trees. For more on Trees Atlanta's history, click here.

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